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Whither China? Revisiting the Dangers of Nationalism and Democratization

UC Berkeley's Institute of East Asian Studies presents a talk by Peter Lorentzen and Jessica Chen Weiss discussing the role of nationalism and democratic mobilization in China.

September 9, 2011 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Would a democratic China be more or less nationalistic and aggressive in its foreign policy? According to an influential argument by Mansfield and Snyder, democratization often increases the risk of external conflict as political elites search for new bases of political legitimacy and fan the flames of nationalist sentiment. However, the conventional wisdom overlooks the fact that nationalist movements often precede a move toward democracy, suggesting that the relationship between democratization and conflict may be partially spurious. The speaker suggests that the conflict propensity of democratizing states depends on the character of the grassroots nationalist movement that preceded democratization. To shed light on whether political liberalization in China is likely to increase or decrease the likelihood of external conflict, the speaker examines the relationship between popular nationalism and democratic mobilization in China. A case study of the 1985 anti-Japanese protests and the 1986 and 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations illustrates the role of nationalism as a mobilizing force for grassroots democratic activism. Key writings by contemporary nationalists and democratic dissidents illuminate the overlap and differences in their preferences over foreign policy and domestic governance. Her findings are consistent with the concern that a move toward democratization in China could bring increased conflict, but not for the conventional reasons.

Panelist/Discussant: Peter Lorentzen, Political Science, UC Berkeley

: Jessica Chen Weiss, Political Science, Yale University

Phone Number: 
(510) 643-6321